I see a lot of trainers recommending, and fitness enthusiasts trying to incorporate cheat days into their nutrition plan. I never put pre-planned cheat days into a client’s, or my own routine.
This does not mean I don’t eat indulgent foods on occasions, it just means I do not set a day aside where I plan to go off track.
A whole lot of progress can be lost in a big binge. A cheat meal far too often turns into a cheat day or even a weekend. The following days after a are much harder to get back to healthy eating as sugar cravings are through the roof.
With a few exceptions (processed takeout food with hydrogenated/trans fats) I try not to label foods as bad or good. Typically unhealthy foods eaten in a small portion size can go well with a weight loss or healthy eating plan. Whilst foods typically healthy in too larger portion size (e.g. Large bowl porridge with big spoon of honey) may also hinder your progress.
I TRY and work my nutrition around these principles:
- My core nutrition at home/work is 100% classically healthy/clean foods.
- I say no to ALL treats if I do not feel is it a big personal/social sacrifice to say no to (biscuits/sweets passed around at work/friend’s house/car journeys), these quickly add up to become significant in a week.
- If it is an out of routine occasion (birthdays, family gathering, rare social event) I’m happy to eat what is available/offered yet will often make sure I don’t pick the very worst option available (I may have a good size main course but skip or share a dessert & only have one drink).
- Christmas day is my one exception where I eat what I like but try not to eat so much I feel ill or ridiculously bloated & ruin the day.
The general idea is to avoid big swings in motivation which inevitably ends with some form of starvation followed by binging. It is important for healthy food psychology to have occasional treats in your diet without feelings of guilt or losing all control. If you know that 90% of your diet is that core home/work routine, any deviation is an exception rather than simply a moment of weakness, therefore you can enjoy your food.
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Author - Tom Peto
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